Evil Empire 1, Barca 1, aka “When a draw is as good as a win”

Why, oh why, does El Clasic always destroy perspective? Cules are howling about referees and penalties denied. Marca is caterwauling about “a draw that feels like a win,” and the blather goes on. Here’s some perspective:

EE has all but lost the Liga with its 1-1 draw with us. That’s right. Read it and feel better. Guardiola went on all week about how a win is a “must,” etc, etc. He was kidding. If you’d have asked him in his heart of hearts if he would have been happy with a draw, he would have said yes, for the simple reason that it now means we have to drop 9 points in 6 matches. (The lead is 8, but we have the head-to-head advantage) That’s the same number of points that it has taken us 31 matches to drop. It’s a number that also assumes EE is going to win out, hurdling away matches against Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal.

I’m a die-hard cule who sees gloom and doom around every corner, but even I can’t spin that one in a way that’s negative.

Further, people are acting as if we drew against Malaga, or some other bottom-dwelling side. No. We drew against arguably the second-best club in the world, who was able to bring in two inspired, match-altering substitutions. Even then, errors were required for those subs to have an effect. They began pressing because they were playing for pride at home. They weren’t playing seriously for the Liga. That much was clear when they came out with a defense-minded lineup that essentially stacked a trio of midfielders with the creativity of a drunk bulldozer driver.

An insult? Doubtful. Even the staunchest EE supporter will admit that a midfield of Khedira, Alonso and Pepe isn’t organized with offense and creativity as its paramount consideration.

We, conversely, were keeping it in second gear because we have a match against this same club to play on Wednesday, and we knew very well once the starting lineup was clear that barring any sorts of calamities or set-piece stupidity, this side wasn’t going to beat us.

And the chess match continues.

Guardiola came out with his “best available” lineup of Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Adriano, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Pedro! and Villa, and the quandary was interesting. Do you rest players by letting your best play in second gear, or do you rest players by flat-out sitting them down. Decorum and firing squads dictate that you can’t play a B side in El Clasic, no matter what your views on the Liga title are. So you roll them out, and watch them sashay about. No pressing, no pit-bull attacks, no serious efforts, no nothing except a calm possession game, facilitated by an EE lineup set up to keep us from dropping another manita on them in their house. Inspired? Again, it depends on perspective. Pepe played an excellent match, but he isn’t Ozil and it showed in their attack that was long balls and breaks up the flanks.

But the few times we were actually serious about attacking, Villa got into the box twice, earning a penalty once, wet the bed in front of Casillas a few more times and Messi had two point-blank shots stopped by Casillas. Then we went back to knocking the ball around again.

This match was interesting because of what it represented, another edition of the storied, bitter rivalry that is El Clasic. The world stopped, Spain hovered in a frenetic, breathless paroxysm of “Omigod”-ness in an affliction that recurs twice a year usually, but this month will plague with an almost weekly flare-up. But only the most generous would say that it was a truly, truly interesting match for the precise reasons I’ve already laid out. One team wanted to stop the other team from scoring, and the other team wasn’t all that interested in scoring that much. So one team passed the ball around and the other team chased it. 90 minutes passed and the hyperventilating began.

The only ways that they were going to beat us were set pieces or errors, and both came in abundance. Thong Boy smacked the post on a free kick, Adriano had to clear a set piece header off the line and a penalty was earned when instead of just hoofing the ball up the pitch like you’re supposed to do when defending a 0-1 lead against a very dangerous, pressing team, Busquets played the ball to Xavi without checking behind first. Opponent quality applies pressure in different ways. So Ozil stole it and played it to TB who played it to Marcelo, who was there when Alves got stupid and tried to make a play instead of realizing that Marcelo wasn’t going anywhere, so just do a Keiteeeee, and get in the way.

But again, that’s perspective. EE-centric press, fans and pundits will argue about ducks broken, great comebacks with 10 men, etc, etc. Mind you, excellent teams capitalize on opponent mistakes, so full credit to them. We usually get out of those sorts of dodgy moments because Almeria attackers put the ball over the net, or overhit the pass. But not today, not in their house.

And by drawing, we win. Yay for us! Will both coaches pay lip service to the Liga not being officially over? For sure. But it is. Done. Other than that, there just wasn’t a whole lot of match to review, folks. Sorry. One team was being actively negative, while the other team was being passively negative. A draw was a fair result. What makes me feel that we were being actively negative? Look at how slowly the ball moved, and how little off-the-ball movement there was. It was like a training exercise. EE didn’t care, because as long as we stroked the ball around, we weren’t presenting the danger of putting the ball into the net. So it’s all good.

I got to thinking about (once again) the Chicago Bulls championship winning teams and the Jordan Rules, instituted by Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly, a man who was a lot like Jose Mourinho. The Jordan Rules were essentially to let anybody except Michael Jordan beat you. Stop him, and kill the beast. It worked for a while, until Jordan got the quality players necessary to kill, thus allowing him to kill. Mourinho has the Messi Rules. Pepe shadowed Messi, with Marcelo hanging around. Messi helped them keep him quiet by insisting on making runs rather than using his teammates (again like Jordan, before he got religion). They’d absorb the pressure, then Pepe or Marcelo would take the ball and off they went on the counter.

Messi had two exceptional scoring chances that weren’t in reality as good as they looked. In the first, he took a brilliant ball from Iniesta and squared on Casillas. But Marcelo was right there pressuring, and Messi’s first touch was a little loose. So he had to recover the ball, then try a shot of some kind. An easily snagged chip was the sole option, and Casillas stoppped him. It’s worth noting that an on-form Messi controls that pass better and smokes Casillas, as he did last year at the Bernabeu. It happens.

The second scoring chance was Messi, taking advantage of space created by one of our “all hands on deck” breaks. But there again, he had defenders escorting him, cutting off the opportunities for a square ball and basically giving him a corridor through which to shoot. At the end of that corridor was Casillas.

Again, this wasn’t Ceuta, or Sociedad. It’s their world-class players against ours, and theirs are going to make plays, just like ours do. That’s what makes matches such as this one a Big Deal, even when they aren’t such a big deal in the actual realization, because what often happens is that two teams stocked with great players cancel each other out. So the match turns on one or two moments, plays made or not, calls made or not, brain cramps not being massaged out in time. Busquets could have guaranteed the win by hoofing the ball out. Hard. It’s the 81st minute, dude. No time to be pretty. Pique could have called him off the ball and hoofed it out. And Xavi could have further guaranteed things by shielding it better with his body. Neither one did, and a great player made them pay, turning a win into a draw.

Other talking points

–The referee wasn’t exactly some blind, blithering idiot determined to allow EE to make the match happen. Players create situations for refs to screw up. As Guardiola said, the man was doing his job. Calls were made, calls were missed, in favor of and against both sides. The only clear-cut situation was when Villa was jumped in the EE box. It would be hard to find someone who would quibble with a man being grabbed around the throat and hauled down by his shoulder as not being a penalty. Which isn’t to say that there won’t be some. As I said, this match screws with perspective. And yes, they were giving us extra little kicks and shoves whenever possible, but those are always allowed against us. We should be used to it by now. And no, the Casillas/Villa interaction wasn’t a penalty. Maybe had Villa actually tried to control the ball and score instead of being determined to trip over Casillas and draw a penalty, he might have earned an actual one. As it was, he was falling down almost before Casillas even got there, and someone might even (the bastards!) suggest that Casillas got to the ball a nanosecond before Villa.

No. Sorry, but no.
Yes. Nailed-down, without a doubt yes.

And then there’s Alves. As I said, don’t give people a chance to screw up. What is Marcelo going to do against you, running full tilt at that kind of angle to goal? Nothing. It’s hard to argue for robbery when you give something away. Their players go down in the box, and they’re very good at it. No judgment, just an observation. It’s why they have so many more penalties awarded than we do. So a player has to think before making a play. Alves ddn’t. Am I saying the play was or wasn’t a penalty? Immaterial. You can’t allow the ref the option to make a wrong (not benefitting your club) call.

–The grass: They let theirs grow long, we give ours a buzz cut, then lubricate it with water. Does one being negative and one being “positive” make for right or wrong? Nope. In both cases it’s teams trying to get an edge. Shameful. Nope. Again as Guardiola said, you do what you want to your own house. It’s up to us to deal with it.

Team: 6. Good effort at times, mostly the uncertainty that comes from not playing your hardest. Will that pay off on Wednesday, as we face a tired EE in the Copa final? Doubtful. That’s 4 days away. A few good nights rest, and they will be right as can be. There were key breakdowns, and uncharacteristic looseness with the ball.

Guardiola: 8. Right lineup, right substitutions, made too late, as is often his wont.

Valdes: 7. A very good match with most of all the right moves. His choice to play Ramos the way he did was sound, even if not ultimately the correct one.

Alves: 5. Di Maria constantly used his vacated space to work into, and he didn’t really make them pay with his offense. And that play on Marcelo was just stupid. Don’t give the ref the opportunity to make the wrong judgment call in a bang-bang situation.

Puyol: 7. A very good match, punctuated by a few uncharacteristic giveaways. His presence makes Pique better, without question. His position defense is excellent, more than making up for the diminished pace.

Pique: 7. Key interventions, and a spot-on sense of when to roam and when to stay home. He should have been stronger on that final play. He was in a better position than Busquets to make a play. Call him off, and hoof it out.

Adriano: 9. Man of the Match, going away. When have we last had someone not named Abidal who could outrun Thong Boy, as Adriano did. He was in the right place at the right time with the right play time and time again, and what a header off the line to save a goal.

Busquets: 5. Not as influential as he could/should have been, with a few “Bad Busi!” moments. And that simulation on the sideline was ridiculous. He had stopped that sort of nonsense for a while. The pass to Xavi that gifted the steal to Ozil was ill-advised to the point of full-on stupidity.

Xavi: 5. Bereft of his usual command of the match, with some wayward passes and out-of-position moments. Yes, some great balls also, but not enough of them to keep him from being average.

Iniesta: 4. Even more withdrawn than Xavi. For our machine to go, its engine room has to be working. It wasn’t today. Disappeared for looong stretches. Pepe should have been gutted by Xavi and he running rings around him.

Messi: 3. Clearly off-form, even though he had a pair of very good scoring chances. Giveaways galore, and then not even bothering to chase the ball? Unlike him. He’s exhausted, and there’s no relief in sight.

Pedro: 3. The P in “MVP” is still playing his way back into form. He looks the same, but the results aren’t the same as he does the headless chicken thing far too often. Not one quality shot on goal today.

Villa: 2. He tracked back on defense some, and nice work to earn the penalty. Everything else was pretty awful. He’s looking and playing a lot like Krkic during his crisis on confidence. Dude just can’t buy a goal. How do you get put through on goal, and you hit it directly at the keeper? Yeccch!

Substitutes

Keita (for Puyol): 5. A little out of his depth, but he always is with fast, counter-attacking sides, where by the time he gets in the way, the ball/player is gone. Were Mascherano available, it’s hard not to imagine Guardiola not going for him instead.

Afellay (for Pedro): 6. Some good plays, but again not sufficiently dynamic to deal with that kind of a pressing, aggressive side. Some of the blame must reside with his teammates.

Maxwell (for Adriano): incomplete. EE took almost immediate advantage of his lack of pace and physicality, kicking off the sequence that led to the equalizing play/penalty sequence. Did he err per se? Nope.

Next up is the Copa del Reig final on Wednesday. Today’s match didn’t concern me all that much, and Wednesday’s N.I.T. final won’t either. Champions League. Repeat after me: Champions League. It’s sad for Krkic that he isn’t healthy, so that he could get the start for this match. But that’s life, right?

Meanwhile ….

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

176 Comments

  1. soccermomof4
    April 17, 2011

    Good news according to barcastuff:

    Right Now > Training session. Recovery. Puyol and Adriano with the group. Bojan and Abidal individual treatment. #fcblive

  2. April 17, 2011

    Many factors contributed in making our shallow squad look shallower. We have enough quality in the midfield. All the injuries at the back line, added to Milito’s form caused lot of troubles for the defense. Ibra’s -very late- deal damaged offense depth. And then, there is the Messi impact…

    I think giving Messi the freedom to ramble at well in all directions served him a favor, helped him to score more, but had some bad impact on the offense line productivity. We became very Messi-centric since last season in a way that the offense line (and midfield, so to speak) started to adapt to a supportive role rather than taking initiatives. I pointed that out last season, but as we all know it was all that player’s fault. Now that we have the chosen one and still suffer the same syndrome, hopefully it appears more obvious that we really lack that diversity you need in the offense line to make it uncontainable. Lets be honest here, our offense this season is all about Messi’s brilliance.

    We need a striker for next season. no doubt. But most importantly, we need to adapt and customize our style to execute multidimensional combination of offense setup. Or else, we’ll be back to square one.

    Which brings me to an interesting point…Everyone talk about Real Madrid not reaching their peak performance yet. “Wait and see next season!” in fact, I feel the opposite is true. RM may improve next season, but to what extend? I mean, what can they add more to their squad? Some quality, more understanding, but not much. Will they reach that Pique-Alves-Busquets-Xavi-Iniesta-Messi level of understanding? I doubt. In the other hand, Barca’s squad can develop massively by adding just a center back and a striker. Add Afellay and Thiago’s development to the mix. RM fans are not the only ones looking forward for next season.

    • outerspacedout
      April 17, 2011

      That last paragraph has really given me a big extra boost. I had thought that yes, how much more can Madrid really improve- they already have bought some of the best players possible in almost every position, and there is only so far they can go in terms of cohesiveness- but in comparison the fact that, as you say, ‘on the other hand Barca’s squad can develop massively by adding just a center back and a striker. Add Afellay and Thiago’s development to the mix’ is like oh damn, yeah!

    • stowe
      April 17, 2011

      We will also see further improvement in Pedro’s game. He is still young and has improved every year.
      Villa (if he sticks around and i really hope we’re not so foolish as to try to start fresh again) will also mesh more with the style of the team.
      Abidal will get better at CB assuming he still has his pace (i think he will).
      Adriano will improve for sure. He adds so much to the offense with his pace, low crosses and hunger to shoot.
      Valdes is getting better too.
      obviously Afellay will do more and Thiago can fill in. Busquets is still maturing and growing as well and Mascherano will be even better!
      We DO need more help in the front and in the back. Our player versatility has helped but can only do so much. I would love a pacey CB with passing skills (doesn’t even need to be tall).
      Kanoute would be great or another player like what we had in Henry. Too bad we let him go this year, guess we thought we would have Ibra.

    • April 17, 2011

      That last paragraph by Ramzi is good for the soul…! I home all cules could read it..

    • gogah
      April 17, 2011

      you seem to talk a lot of sense. i’m new around here, but i have a slightly less diplomatic version which i’d love for you to check out when you have the time http://barcapower.blogspot.com

  3. Whatever
    April 17, 2011

    Whatever happens in the following games, I am really proud to be a cule. We can finish the season without a trophy, I would still feel proud to be a cule and proud of the team. Just wanted to say that.

  4. messi_fan
    April 17, 2011

    “Barcelona and Valencia agreed a 2M transfer deal on Barcelona B right back Martin Montoya (20), including a 3M buy back option.” – @barcastuff

    Do you guys feel we should do more of this? It seemed to work out pretty well with Botia (assuming we buy him back)

    • outerspacedout
      April 17, 2011

      I hope he gets to play at Valencia to some extent. At least it’ll make their squad deeper, which bodes well for them since, like Villareal, they have a quality starting line-up but don’t do as well due to lack of strength in depth especially as the season goes on.

      And it’s good imo. He’ll get some action at very top level, at a club playing in the CL, a club that is already one of the best fifteen or so in Europe and is on the up, and if he turns out to be good we can get a class player for a very small fee.

  5. Lev
    April 17, 2011

    I read that all of our 4 losses this season came without Puyol. I can only remember two losses, though, Arsenal and Hercules. Do I have a selective memory? We only lost those two…right?

    • Jnice
      April 17, 2011

      3-1 against Betis in the Copa and 3-1 against Sevilla in the first leg of the Supercopa, I believe.

      • Lev
        April 17, 2011

        ah yeah you are right. forgot about those.

        anybody watching Arsenal – Liverpool right now? Arsenal is dominating. Cesc and Van Persie are playing really well.

      • Miguel
        April 17, 2011

        Fabregas has been ok. I do fancy Arsenal to score before the end of the half, though. Sucks to be Liverpool’s fullbacks. Suárez is alone up top for Pool.

      • Lev
        April 17, 2011

        ya kidding me. did you see some of the passes he gave??

  6. Miguel
    April 17, 2011

    Glad you took a sunny side up approach to this match, Kxev. Nice review. Any news on Puyis?

    • Lev
      April 17, 2011

      training with the team, as is Adriano (who i never even realized got injured yesterday)

      • Miguel
        April 17, 2011

        Really?! Awesome news! Thanks, roomie! 😀

      • Lev
        April 17, 2011

        LOL

  7. April 17, 2011

    What mostly worries me about this game is that our players will not go into the Copa final with a clear head…and will try too hard to show they are the better team…and when we try too hard our game tends to suffer…mainly by missing sitters (Arsenal 2nd leg)

    If we lose the copa however, I don’t see how (if our squad is full) madrid can win again against us in Champion League…
    If we win the copa however..we might get slightly complacent and they’ll probably be on fight to the death mode…

    …Uffff…I want all three and this psychological war is driving me crazy…because it will all come down to mental preparation in the end…

    I find amazing and annoying at the same time that madrid got no pressure whatsoever for losing la liga not only yesterday but after losing to Sporting as well..I think them saying that La liga is not over is mostly to put us under stress than anything else because -as it was evident from yesterdays tactics- they don’t really care anymore. Not to mention that the quality of their bench is good enough, for them to even some of the liga derbies coming up by playing stress free and resting 6-7 players…

    Do you thing our boys will be mentally ready having learned our lesson from last year…or do you think I’m putting waaaay to much emphasis on mental preparation ?

  8. Humphrey Bogart
    April 17, 2011

    Anybody watching Pool against Arsenal. I am downright rattled by what happend to Carragher, as a girl you always get so emotional about things like that, damn. Give me a sad film, story or even newspaper-article I am downright in tears, even in public.

    • Vj
      April 17, 2011

      How serious was it? Concussion?

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 17, 2011

        I have no information yet, but there were maybe 10 or more medios taking care of him for maybe 10 minutes, then he was completly fixed on a stretcher and taken off and getting oxygen by a mask.

    • Lev
      April 17, 2011

      i’m watching. van persie just choked.

      • Humphrey Bogart
        April 17, 2011

        Liverpool have a lot of young guns coming through their academy. I like the attitude of King Kenny who is throwing them into the cold water and they are doing really well

  9. Eklavya
    April 17, 2011

    Question:

    Will be start resting regulars in La Liga from now on?

    • Lev
      April 17, 2011

      i hope so

  10. Helge
    April 17, 2011

    Looks like Dortmund, ManUtd and Barça have all practically become champions this weekend.

    Oh, penalty for Arsenal 😀

    Wonder if Cesc scores…

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011

      No, it’s been van Persie. And he made it! 1-0 97th min.

      • Helge
        April 17, 2011

        Ok, thanks to Arsenal’s stupidity my above statement is after all true. Poor Gunnners… might never win a title again.

    • Helge
      April 17, 2011

      Now it seems we can add AC Milan to that list as well.

  11. Miguel
    April 17, 2011

    Poor Arsenal. 🙁

    • Humphrey Bogart
      April 17, 2011

      I do not knwo if poor is the right word: idiotic would be better, okay we gave away a lead yesterday, but it is to no consequence, but this was a game they had to win

  12. gowtham
    April 17, 2011

    Hey Guys! I’ve been chosen to write the reviews for TotalBarca ( La Liga games only ) and I would love it if you guys can go check it out and give me some feedback, constructive criticism is appreciated:D

    After watching the game again I have a few more points to share with you guys.

    -Villa: Villa’s finishing seems to be the only problem. I do not think that he is off form, far from it actually. He’s making clever runs, playing more defense than last year’s front three combined, and his passing is getting much more better. It’s incredibly hard for him. In Valencia, he was hands down the most important, valuable, and the best player on the team. Everything used to go through him. He played much differently from what he plays now, and his positioning, making of the runs, and shooting of the ball was much different. In Valencia and the Spanish NT, he used to take a good 7-8 shots per game, and he would normally score a couple of goals. More shots=More possibility of scoring goals. In Barca he only takes a good 2-4 shots a game, and hence he has less possibility of scoring. It’s only his finishing that needs improving( And mind you, we only say that when comparing him to our number “10”).
    And there’s another thing about Villa that I just seem to love. Whenever we score, he seems to be the happiest man on the pitch, always pumping the air, screaming. He shows more passion for this team that Henry and Zlatan put together. He loves the team, and I love him. I’ll stick with him through think and thin. And I WILL guarantee you guys that he will score 30+ goals next season.

    -Messi: Yes, he seems tired, but more than that he seemed very different today. He seemed…un-interested. I’m pretty confident that he didn’t want to stress himself out, and that’s understandable. Let’s take this notion into practice. We tied with Real Madrid, at their home, with most of our players not playing at their best. Imagine playing them at a neutral ground, with our players playing to their fullest. BTW, I would take this result in the 1st leg of the CL any day 😀

    – Real Madrid: Hate them to my fullest, Marcelo’s reaction says it all, they were happy to draw, we were mad that we drew so I expect the boys to be a completely changed team, mentally and physically come the next three games. And notice how our players hardly celebrated when we got our penalty…

    – One more thin: I am extremely proud of this team, and I think every one else should be too. They have given us something that I think no other team in the history of football has ever given us. Excitement. Hands down, this team is the most exciting and joyful team to have ever been created. I haven’t seen Sacchi’s Milan nor have i seen the Brazil of the 70’s, but from what I’ve seen on youtube (holy grail) these guys are much much more special, and so is the guy who wears the number 10 shirt..he’s all right 😉

    -P.S: Two former FCB players, Henry and Toure both scored for their respective teams. Yaya’s goal was more impressive: 53rd winner against Man utd to end their treble dream, and to send man City int0 the F.A Cup finals…gotta love the big guy 😀

    • Víctor
      April 17, 2011

      Yes, that’s the main issue… his poor finishing as of late (he had 4 consecutive games scoring and then he has 10 games without a goal)… however, he is doing the effort and yes, he is making mistakes, but he tracks back and presses, something every Barça forward should do as well… that’s the big difference between him and Ibrahimovic (and mind you, people, I wanted Ibra to stay, he also has quite a lot of talent)…

      • April 17, 2011

        I hold out a fool’s hope that playing in his old ground at the Mestalla midweek will see Villa explode with confidence. I mean, it’s where he became a phenomenon.

      • gowtham
        April 17, 2011

        Let’s hope and pray Jose:D
        Maybe, just maybe he can show some of his old Valencia fishing techniques this wednesday!
        I wouldn’t mind him scoring a hat-trick if it means taking the spot-light off Messi.

        -Victor: I wanted Ibra to stay too. That was before he said all the stupid things he said. I was drooling over a partnership of Villa, Messi, and Ibra. Amazing, It would have been something special. But, I hate him now for disrespecting the club, i would hate messi too if he ever said anything like that. Club before Player any day, all day !

      • gowtham
        April 17, 2011

        finishing* not fishing..FAIL:S

    • April 17, 2011

      Well if that’s the kind of perspective that you are going to bring to writing your reviews ….

      Strive to be unbiased, and as objective as possible. Statements such as “He shows more passion for the team than Henry and Zlatan put together” aren’t the kinds of statements that objective reviewers make. It’s also, if you look at video of goals scored, incorrect. Watch the video that Henry scores against EE in the 2-6 El Clasic, the fire in his eyes, the way that screams “Basta, bastaaaaa!” after he scores it. Then tell me he’s devoid of passion for the team. Same with Ibrahimovic in El Clasic when he knocked in the match winner. Messi scored and did his usual salute to grandma. No extra passion. Does Villa also have more passion for the team than Messi?

      Henry also suffered a knee injury in that match from a Ramos cheap shot, and kept on playing. Is that not sufficient passion?

      When a reviewer makes a statement such as you made, a fan will always call them out.

      –Villa. Excusing his poor finishing by saying that he’s doing everything else right simply makes allowances for him not finishing his job. I don’t know if you’re a Villa fan, but saying that he played “more defense than last year’s front three combined,” again, support that statement with data, or it’s just fan hyperbole, something a reviewer should stay away from. Messi was part of last year’s front three, right? And again, go to the video and watch Ibrahimovic defend on set pieces. Players defend and do their jobs differently. You can have one and still have the other.

      Reviewing is hard work. You can do it without being a booster, but that makes it even harder. Is this team great? Yes. Can they be crap? You bet. You can’t be afraid of what anyone will think or say when you write a review. And I can’t stress enough: Stay clear of unsupportable, absolute statements. “Hands down, this is the most exciting and joyful team to have ever been created.”

      Compared to what? People who have in fact watched Cruijff’s Dream Team, 70s Brazil or Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan would say that you were nuts, because that’s their perspective. Stick to the facts, and your interpretation of the facts, and it’s hard to go wrong.

      • gowtham
        April 17, 2011

        Holy Shiznit!
        Thanks mate:D
        I understand everything you say, but the problem is it’s hard to not be biased when writing a review. You always want to share what you think with the readers, and at times it can be an unsupportable, absolute statement, such as the one you mentioned above. This year is the first time I have ever done any kind of review,and when it’s your favorite team that you’re writing about, I tend to stray more towards the positives and my opinion.

        Once again, thank you very much on the helpful comments, and BTW it’ll help if you can check out my reviews every now and then and comment on how they are…A reviewer can only ask another reviewer for help 😉

        Thanks Alot Mate!
        Cheers

      • ooga aga
        April 17, 2011

        i am the only objective one here. the rest of you lack sufficient obectivity. my opinion. 😉

  13. April 17, 2011

    Copa del Rey special T-shirt in the bag! One for me one for hubby!
    If you guys want to order I suggest doing it fast only small and medium sizes are left!

    • April 17, 2011

      Ehhhhh? It’s probably impossible for me to get one before CdR final 🙁 Not to mention I live in NA.

      My current goal is to get one more Messi kit before the QF logo stains the shirt. Kitbag isn’t as good anymore, apparently. Sigh.

  14. Artur
    April 17, 2011

    Just my 2 cents … Affelay is the Bojan of last 2 seasons … a late bloomer who will step up at the most crucial time. Especially with both Pedro and Villa not match fit.

    And Villa will definitely start at Mestalla, just like Jose above mentioned this is where he grew up, hi confidence will explode and crowd will be behind him alone. I just hope Afellay gets the nod ahead of Pedro or at least is subbed in earlier.

  15. yana
    April 17, 2011

    It’s kind of impossible to really know what to feel about this match, without the context of the next three. I mean, if this was just the standalone Liga, no doubt the effort from the team — both teams — would have been entirely different. And we would have all been disappointed. But as it is, we got what my puzzled friend called the most boring match he could have expected, and yet we’re all fairly accepting of it, even pleased. (He tuned in due to the massive hype, but normally follows only the Bundesliga.)

    As I told him, RM played to not lose. We played, well, to not lose as well, but more importantly, conserve energy. A win would have been great, definitely didn’t want to cede the match, but a draw, that works. For different reasons on both sides, the match was about not winning the battle at the expense of losing the war. I think we as fans would have loved to see an unmitigated victory to set off the dominos for the CDR and CL, but I can accept that it’s not the most important thing at this point.

    I totally get where the RM fans are coming from; with five losses in a row capped off by being at the other end of what was globally lauded as the perfect Barcelona game, how could one be other than braced for more of the same no matter how much faith one had in the improved RM squad? I know I would feel a triumphant relief at battling back to a draw.

    In fact, I can understand and appreciate that fanview/mediaview much more than those from a certain other team’s “Barcelona would never make it in our league/Wooo, we beat the best team in the world!” Okay, which is it, because you can’t have both — either beating Barca shows how fantastic you are, since Barca is the best team in the world? Or of course you beat Barca, no big deal since Barca would be no better than mid-table if they were in that other league? (Yes, I know not all of their fans are like that. But those that are, are exasperating to say the least.)

  16. Ryan
    April 17, 2011

    I just bought my ticket for the USA- Spain game for June 4th!

    Is anyone else going? I’m a huge fan of both teams but will be cheering for the possession-deprived Red, White, and Blue. 🙂

    • April 17, 2011

      #sittinghereveryjealous

      • Ryan
        April 17, 2011

        I’ve spent over $200 in the 2 upcoming summer games Spain and Barcelona are playing, but how can I say no?

      • April 17, 2011

        Have fun, Ryan! And take some pics, if you can! I’ll post ’em while being green with envy. 😀

      • Ryan
        April 17, 2011

        Will do!

  17. April 17, 2011

    Thanks Papa Kxevin for “perspective”, I needed it, but if I see 3 more games like this one, with both competitions settled by penalty kicks, I will utter a Yaya sized “MEH!!” regardless who wins…give me an end-to-end 1-2 defeat ala Arsenal any day.

  18. April 17, 2011

    LOL. Did anyone see this picture of the Guardian? Comical! Literally, “haters gonna hate”.

    • Para
      April 17, 2011

      When I watch the match for the first time/live, I don’t think I ever get a real grip on what’s going on due largely to emotion and getting swept along. Having watched various highlights (in particular this video), I can see just how low-gear Barcelona were playing yesterday.

      • April 17, 2011

        Me too…meh. I just have to remember this is strategy induced 2nd gear vs Rijkaard era complacency. Perspective, perspective…

        ah, doubel meh this this team has ruined me!
        –spectaculo addict

    • April 17, 2011

      Wow… just wow. This is pretty much what I took away from the game: that lazy one-two possession from us, often backwards, mostly cautious.

      Those who repeated the cliches about how every Clasico would be treated like a full-throttle, heated affair because “well the rivalry is too intense to warrant anything less” were apparently wrong. We looked to be conserving energy and looking to tire RM, mentally and physically.

    • ooga aga
      April 17, 2011

      love this video. at 6:36 announcer “excellent football, this” at droolworthy move protagonized by messi

  19. April 17, 2011

    Btb, I just got tickets for the CONCACAF Champions League Final! I had to stake out a KFC, because the tickets are only being sold to season ticket holders, but it was worth it.

    The final is between Monterrey and Real Salt Lake, and this is the first opportunity for an MLS team to win the damn thing and represent CONCACAF at the Club World Cup 2011 in Japan… hopefully against Barca. 😀

    The CCL is two legs, so the first leg is in Monterrey, and the second here in Salt Lake City… Let’s just hope there’s still a match to be played after the first leg in Monterrey 🙁

    • Ryan
      April 17, 2011

      I remember when RSL first got established, as I had just graduated from high school in Utah. They’ve been doing really well and I too hope to see them compete in the Club World Cup.

      • April 17, 2011

        …too bad about their name.
        Actually all these MLS little league euro-monikers are a bit weird.

    • ooga aga
      April 17, 2011

      how did you end up in salt lake city?

      • Ryan
        April 17, 2011

        Mom moved there to teach Spanish. Lots of return Mormon missionaries there who want to continue improving their Spanish speaking and writing.

        It’s a pretty nice city, especially in the winter if you like skiing or snowboarding!

      • ooga aga
        April 17, 2011

        ?and jose? ?sabes la broma de los mormones?

      • April 17, 2011

        jaja, hey ooga, I came here to get my Ph.D. in neural engineering at the U of Utah. U of U had the best offer for me 😛

        Living in SLC, coincidentally, I don’t have as much interaction with Mormon communities as you’d think. The U is about 20% Mormon at the graduate level. My experiences have been nothing but positive 🙂 Also, the Rio Tinto Stadium where RSL plays is colloquially known as La Mormonera… jaja you know like Boca Junior’s Bombonera?

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